Located in the heart of Lehigh Valley, Bethlehem is an unusual German-influenced city that prospered through industrial efforts.
The city is a hidden gem in Pennsylvania, made popular for its history and industries. It played a big role in the industrial revolution of the United States, and this characteristic is a defining visual identity of the city.
You will see giant factories, historical sites, vibrant markets that started it all. This sums up a city where you could have the perfect vacation experience.
Come on, let’s look at the best things to do in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Things to Do in Bethlehem
1. Burnside Plantation
Burnside Plantation, a historic farm, was established in 1748 and has been restored since then. It was home to James and Mary Burnside, who were Bethlehem Moravians.
The plantation still has the original farm home, several barns and many outbuildings. One of the few remaining horse-powered wheels in the country is also on the property.
Throughout the year, the plantation hosts a variety of events, including workshops hosted at Penn State by master gardeners.
You can also enjoy live cooking demonstrations or tours of the farm. Open Gate Farm Tours is one of the most popular activities, It include guided farm tours and farming demonstrations.
Address: 1461 Schoenersville Road, Bethlehem, PA 18018, United States
2. America on Wheels
One rather interesting museum for you to check out is America on Wheels. The only snag is that it lies not in Bethlehem.
The Museum of America on Wheels is situated in Allenton, another city located west of Bethlehem.
If you desire to learn about transportation methods back in the days, this museum helps that, and you’ll even know the complete system of Bethlehem.
It would interest you to know that Lehigh Valley was way ahead in the motor industry, seeing cars before others.
In 1889, Henry Nadig made a gas-powered car. It is also believed that this car was among the leading automobiles. Do well to visit the museum as it is one of the best things to do in Bethlehem.
3. Banana Factory Arts and Education CenterOne of the best things to do in Bethlehem, PA, is visiting the Banana Factory Arts and Education Center.
The Banana Factory Arts and Education Center, a gallery, classroom and studio space, is located in a former banana distribution warehouse.
Six buildings house a variety of arts-related organizations. It houses the ArtsQuests visual art programs, 30 artist studios and three different galleries, and there are also a variety of classrooms.
The centre also features a Pennsylvania Youth Theatre, which offers performing arts classes for students of 6-18 years old.
The artists hold an annual gallery show. First Friday events are also held throughout the year. The public can enjoy the art at no cost.
Address: 25 W. 3rd Street #300, Bethlehem, PA 18015, United States
4. Spend a night at Hotel Bethlehem
Next on the list of top things to do in Bethlehem is Hotel Bethlehem.
Hotel Bethlehem is a place almost everyone knows. But, did you know that many popular people have stayed here? It is called the Historic Hotel Bethlehem and has seen a handful of the best guests in the past years.
Various American Presidents and Dalai Lama, even the great Winston Churchill, are amongst its most popular guests.
So, imagine the feeling of spending a night in the hotel where these popular people stayed. Of course, Historic Hotel Bethlehem accommodates commoners too.
5. Treat yourself to some beers at Fegley’s Brew Works
One interesting place to visit is Fegley’s Brew Works. This brewery is visited by both locals and tourists at all hours of the day.
It also has branches and shops scattered all over Bethlehem and down to nearby towns and cities. It is a microbrewery, and you can get plenty of food, so take your dishes along.
There is a saying that Fegley’s Brew Works makes a killer classic burger. Not to forget, the fish and chips deserve special recognition here. Just like for the locals, it is a must-try for visitors as well.
You will love their beer and nachos, and they also prepare some of the best cocktails around.
Address: 559 Main Street #101, Bethlehem, PA 18018
6. Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts
One of the best things to do in Bethlehem, PA, is to visit The Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts, a museum of art spread over three residences from the 19th century.
This museum, which is the only state museum dedicated to decorative arts, is also one of just 15 of such museums across the country.
These interconnected homes feature a variety of period rooms, rotating exhibits and galleries that display furniture, china and flatware as well as artwork from the past three centuries.
Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts shows the evolution of design trends over 300 years.
The property also has a Scott Rothenberger-designed garden that utilizes contemporary and traditional elements and makes for a great space for special events.
Address: 427 N. New Street, Bethlehem, PA 18018, United States
7. Colonial Industrial Quarter
The Colonial Industrial Quarter in Bethlehem is a historical site that preserves the nation’s earliest industrial park.
The site is also part of the larger Historic Moravian Bethlehem National Historic Landmark District.
The Moravians built the site near a spring along Monocacy Creek. This creek provided power for many industries that were established here.
The original buildings were made of small wooden structures. But, within a few years, they had expanded the area to include a gristmill, a blacksmith shop and a tannery.
Over time, these buildings fell into ruin but were revived and restored in the second half of the 20th century.
Visitors can now tour many of these buildings and ruins to learn more about the area’s history.
Address: 459 Old York Road, Bethlehem, PA 18018, United States
8. Have fun at Ringing Rocks County Park
Located in Bucks County, a little drive from Bethlehem, Ringing Rocks County Park is one of the most amazing outdoor places in the entire PA.
Ringing Rocks County Park is sited some 30 minutes from Bethlehem, but this exciting place is worth every minute of the drive.
The rocks in the boulder field of this park ring like a bell when hit with a hammer. Striking different rocks produce different sounds, and you’ll see some persons try to play various songs using the rocks alone.
The park is also home to High Falls – the tallest waterfall in Bucks County and probably the nearest waterfall to Bethlehem. And if your visit coincides with the time of high water levels, you would have more to enjoy.
9. Historic Bethlehem Tours
Bethlehem is home to many interesting historical sites, making some of the best fun things to do in the city.
While it is possible to choose and pick what you would like to see while exploring the area, for those who want a more straightforward approach, a tour may be what they are looking for.
Historic Bethlehem Tours offers custom tours and walking tours as well as special seasonal tours.
There are many tour options available that take you to different places in the town, including various themed tours. You can choose from the 1752 Apothecary Tour or the Christmas City Stroll.
There are also the Death and Dying Cemetery Tour and the Colonial Industrial Quarter Walking Tour.
Address: 505 Main Street, Bethlehem, PA 18018, United States
10. National Canal Museum
Like you might have noticed, Bethlehem is the land of museums and history that explains the diverse historical aspects.
The National Canal Museum is situated in Easton, some distance away from the eastern part of Bethlehem. This museum is filled with very informative displays.
The role played by canals towards the grooming and development of industries during the olden days cannot be ignored. Though there aren’t many functional ones nowadays, they were once the largest source of connectivity.
At the National Canal Museum, you will learn everything about the canal that used to be in the area, including the nearby Lehigh Canal.
You will also love the boat rides offered by this museum!
11. Lit Coffee Roastery & Bakeshop
Lit Roastery and Bakeshop are a combination of the Monocacy Coffee Company and Made By Lino bakery.
The shop offers fresh-roasted, in-house coffees, French macaroons, French pour-overs and other freshly-baked goods.
They bake, cook, and roast almost everything in-house.
Coffee shops usually have eight varieties of coffee. They also use a refractometer to ensure that they meet quality standards.
This space is great for relaxing and enjoying freshly baked items.
Address: 26 E 3rd St, Bethlehem, PA 18015, United States
12. Hoover Mason Trestle
The Hoover Mason Trestle, a 1,650-foot elevated park, sits on the site that was once home to Bethlehem Steel.
Once, the narrow-gauge railway used the trestle to transport iron raw materials from the ore yards to their furnaces. It is now a public walkway, which doubles as a museum and recreation area.
Visitors have the unique opportunity to see the blast furnaces up close and the gas blowing engine houses from the ground.
Visitors can find information, souvenirs and tours at the visitors centre.
Address: SteelStacks, 711 First Street, Bethlehem, PA 18015, United States
13. National Museum of Industrial History
The former site of Bethlehem Steel is now the National Museum of Industrial History. This was once a major industrial centre.
The museum is a Smithsonian-affiliated institution dedicated to preserving and displaying industrial artefacts and educating the public about the nation’s industrial history.
There are many exhibits in the museum that show the steel, propane, and textile industries.
The museum also has a nice collection of industrial machinery, which the National Museum of American History loaned.
There are four main exhibits that each showcase a different aspect of the nation’s past industrial history and its impact on the country.
A visit to this attraction is one of the best fun things to do in Bethlehem, PA, for some history time.
Address: 602 East 2nd Street, Bethlehem, PA 18015, United States
14. Nuts About Ice Cream
Nuts about Ice Cream is a premium ice-cream parlour that makes its ice cream.
The restaurant offers a wide range of exotic flavours, including sorbets and yoghurt. These recipes are based upon family recipes passed down through generations.
They also reflect the influence of the Joshi family’s extensive travels around the globe and their education at Penn State Dairy School.
There are many flavours to choose from, including strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate. But the stars are the exotic and unique flavours such as chocolate raspberry truffle and cardamom-kulfi.
Don’t worry if you don’t get your Nuts About Ice Cream fix at home. They will deliver your favourite Nuts to you.
Address: 1124 Linden Street, Bethlehem, PA 18018, United States
15. Visit the oldest book store in the United States
Located in downtown Bethlehem, the Moravian Book Shop is the oldest bookstore in the United States of America (and possibly the world).
Therefore, you should add this place on your list of the best things to do in Bethlehem.
The store features and sells all kinds of books, ranging from rare books to popular new pieces. The store interior features a variety of wares, including famous Moravian stars and a gift shop.
You would also find a brewery and a deli inside, where you can get a quick snack or meal while scanning the store.
16. Moravian Museum of Bethlehem
The Moravian Museum of Bethlehem is a historic landmark that includes several buildings dating back to the 1700s.
You can take tours of the buildings and learn much about the history and early settlers of the town.
One of the highlights of a trip to Bethlehem is the Gemienhaus. It is the oldest building in Bethlehem, having been built in 1741.
The museum tells the story of the Moravians who built the town’s five-story log home today.
This multi-purpose, large building is also the country’s largest log building dating back to the 1800s.
You will also find a 1752-era drug store and other interesting buildings from the 18th century on this site.
Address: 66 W. Church Street, Bethlehem, PA 18018, United States
17. Crayola ExperienceIf you seek things to do in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the Crayola Experience is a top destination, especially with kids. Though not exactly in Bethlehem, it is added to our list.
Located in nearby Easton, the Crayola Experience provides interactive activities for artists of all ages.
Sadly, it is not a factory tour, yet the kids will be inspired to grow the budding artist in them. The kids and even adults can create their crayons, engage themselves in various colouring activities and much more.
SteelStacks is an indoor and outdoor cultural centre spread over a 10-acre site. The former Bethlehem Steel plant site has been rehabilitated to make way for the centre.
Each year, more than 1000 concerts are held at the venue.
The space’s name is derived from the five blast furnaces Bethlehem Steel used for many decades.
SteelStacks is a great example of a disused industrial area being made into a vibrant, beautiful part of the community.
Address: 101 Founders Way, Bethlehem, PA 18015, United States
19. Billy’s Downtown Diner
For a memorable dining experience, add Billy’s Downtown Diner to your list of things to do in Bethlehem, PA.
Billy’s Downtown Diner, a small local restaurant, has locations in Bethlehem and Allentown. The diner offers basic diner food with a touch of flair.
There will be all your favourite classics on the menu and some unusual dishes such pink lemonade pancakes or omelettes with mango.
Locals and tourists alike love the casual atmosphere and delicious food. You can choose from breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert.
There is also a selection of beverages such as coffee, tea, lemonades and hand-spun milkshakes.
For those who care about what they eat, there are many vegetarian and healthier options.
Address: 10 E. Broad Street, Bethlehem, PA 18018, United States
20. Wind Creek BethlehemThe Wind Creek Bethlehem is home to the Wind Creek Bethlehem Casino, a 4-star casino hotel.
The casino covers 150,000 square feet. This is roughly the same area as three football fields. You’ll find a lot of things under one roof.
There are more than 3,000 slots in the casino and almost 40 live poker tables at their Sands Poker Room.
You will find plenty of live blackjacks, craps and roulette games at the 180 table games.
The hotel rooms are expensive, but you will be close to the entertainment and games.
Address: 77 Sands Blvd, Bethlehem, PA 18015, United States
21. Illick’s Mill Park
Illick’s Mill is a historic grist mill dating as far back as 1856.
Currently, it is home to the Appalachian Mountain Club‘s Mid-Atlantic conservation office but still offers lovely afternoon walks in its beautiful fashioned backdrop.
Illick’s Mill looks as though it came into reality from classic embroidery designs.
Just take a leisure stroll at the park while enjoying the bridge, picnic tables, waterfall, and even ducks and geese.
Address: 100 Illick’s Mill Road, Bethlehem, PA 18017
22. Dutch Springs: Scuba Diving
Do you want to have some fun in the water? We get Bethlehem has a historical feel, and there aren’t many places with great views. We do have a wonderful place to visit during summer.
Dutch Springs is a rare location just outside Bethlehem that boasts incredible natural beauty. Here, you can have a wonderful time swimming.
Do you want to try scuba diving in Bethlehem? These services are also offered by Dutch Springs.
This spot is unique because there aren’t many scuba diving spots across the country.
If you are in for an adventure, add a visit to this wonderful attraction to your list of things to do in Bethlehem, PA.
23. Godfrey Daniels Music Hall
The Godfrey Daniels Music Hall is located on the south side of Bethlehem. It is the last of our list of top things to do in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
This Hall is a world-class music venue in a rather unassuming building. It sprang humbly from an abandoned doughnut shop to its spot on the international stage for independent musicians.
For over forty years, Godfrey Daniels has welcomed bands, from the upcoming artist to popular musicians playing throwback sets.
You are likely not to forget the show at Godfrey Daniels, so don’t miss out!
Address: 7 E 4th Street, Bethlehem, PA 18015
Plan your trip to Bethlehem
Bethlehem has got all it takes to offer you the perfect weekend getaway location.
The amazing sights, Christmas markets, informative museums, historic structures and exciting parks are sure to thrill you.
So, start planning your next vacation to be in Bethlehem. This piece can always be a great guide to you, so feel free to check back.
You will love your stay in the city as there are many activities to keep you busy.